Jun 5, 2024

Documentary underway about Maharishi and the people who knew him

Michael Barnard (left) interviews Peter Muldavin for his documentary about Maharishi called "Going to the Source." This interview was conducted in New York City in 2019. (Photo Credit: Amber Nightingale)
Andy Hallman
June 4, 2024

FAIRFIELD – A documentary film is being made about Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and Fairfield residents will get a sneak peek at an unfinished version of it on June 16 and 21.

The film is titled “Going to the Source,” and it’s directed and produced by Michael Barnard. Barnard said he has conducted over 150 interviews with Maharishi’s closest friends and associates, each with a unique personal story about the man who brought Transcendental Meditation to the world and founded Maharishi International University in 1973.

Barnard was among the earliest Americans to learn TM, which he did in 1967 after Maharishi visited Berkeley, California.

“I didn’t think it was legit, but a friend dragged me to go see him,” Barnard recalled. “When I heard Maharishi speak, I thought, ‘This is the real deal, an actual master,’ and I learned to meditate.”

Barnard became a TM teacher in 1971, and at the end of the course, Maharishi met with him and asked him to start a film department. For the next seven years, Barnard traveled with Maharishi wherever he went, filming him to produce short documentaries on TM.

Barnard has taken on this project of producing a film about Maharishi all on his own, and he’d like to raise $150,000 to $200,000 to finish the film. He hopes to get a boost when he shows a portion of the film at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 16, and again at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 21.

Barnard lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and has spent his career in Hollywood producing films, commercials and music videos (even before MTV). He lived in Fairfield for a brief period from 2015-2018 while he ran the David Lynch Master’s in Film Program at MIU. While here, it dawned on Barnard that there were many people who knew Maharishi personally, but they were getting up there in age and wouldn’t be around forever. He felt that he needed to document their experiences of working with Maharishi before they passed away.

In 2018, Barnard undertook this project of filming people passing through Fairfield who had a story to tell about Maharishi.

“I felt that this would be an archive for people in the future, so they could know who this person was,” he said. “I’ve now gone over 150 interviews, traveling to India and Hawaii. I’m hoping to finish the film in the next two years, but it could be a series. I don’t know if it will be just one film.”

Fairfield residents may already know that local filmmaker Dick DeAngelis is producing a film on the history of MIU and its arrival in Fairfield in 1974. Barnard said he admires what DeAngelis is doing, and that Barnard’s film will focus exclusively on Maharishi the man.

“I’m not doing this on the history of TM or the movement,” he said. “[My film] is strictly based on one-on-one interactions with Maharishi to reveal who Maharishi was.”

While Barnard is gathering and editing footage for “Going to the Source,” he’s also producing other movies, documentaries and commercials. In fact, one of his earlier projects is inspiring his current drive to complete this film as quickly as possible. He wrote a screenplay about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and through his research, he discovered there was a gap of about 30 years from the time of Jesus’s death until the earliest account of his life was written down.

“By then, people had an interest in creating a church and they had their own reasons for doing things,” he said. “I personally don’t believe the depiction of Jesus in the New Testament is entirely accurate. I was quite sensitive to this area and realized when it came to MIU, that the same could happen with Maharishi.”

Barnard said he felt he was in a unique position to capture for posterity the experiences of people who knew Maharishi, who died in 2008 at age 90. He describes Maharishi as “an amazing person” who was “dedicated 24/7 to increasing consciousness in the world and lessening suffering.”

“Working with him was a transformative experience, and it’s important there’s a record of that.”

Call Andy Hallman at 641-575-0135 or email him at andy.hallman@southeastiowaunion.com


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